Robert J. Rutland Institute for Ethics
2011-12 Presidential Colloquium...

Bringing Ethics into Focus

The aim of the Presidential Colloquium is to provide opportunities for Clemson University students and faculty, as well as members of the community to come together to explore important issues.  The colloquium comprises various events spread over the academic year, e.g., speakers, theatrical performances, panel discussions, and films.  In every case the event is linked to the colloquium theme, which is selected with an eye to its integration “across the curriculum."
The theme of this year’s Presidential Colloquium, Bringing Ethics Into Focus, was chosen with an eye to making the colloquium a key element in the celebration of the 10th anniversary of the Rutland Institute for Ethics as well as revealing the depth and breadth of our commitment to ethics and integrity at Clemson University.  The events of the colloquium should help bring ethics into focus on campus, in the disciplines of the five colleges and the graduate school, our research activities, athletics, and student life, as well as off campus in the communities Clemson University serves, such as business, the professions, government, and K-12 education. 

FALL 2011 / SPRING 2012


FALL 2011

September 29, 2011
Thursday 6:00PM
McKissick Theater

Jeff McMahan

Professor of Philosophy

Rutgers University

Jeff McMahan

Jeff McMahan

"What Rights may be Defended by Means of War?"

Wrongful aggressors often claim to love peace, and there is a sense in which that is true, for they would prefer to get what they want without having to fight a war.  Many of the aims that motivate unjust wars could be achieved without violence: for example, control of another state’s natural resources, such as oil, limited political control over the other state, the annexation of a bit of its territory, and so on.  In such cases, war and killing become necessary for aggressors only if they meet with military resistance.  Most people believe that in domestic society it is not permissible to kill a thief merely to defend one’s property.  So how can it be permissible to kill a large number of soldiers just to defend collective property such as territory and resources – particularly when most of those soldiers act under duress imposed by those they regard as legitimate authorities?  I will consider whether defensive war can be morally justified in such cases of lesser aggression.

Jeff McMahan took his first degree at the University of Oxford and his PhD at the University of Cambridge, and is currently professor of philosophy at Rutgers University. He has written extensively on normative and applied ethics. His publications include The Morality of Nationalism (co-edited with Robert McKim; Oxford, 1997), The Ethics of Killing: Problems at the Margins of Life (Oxford, 2002) and Killing in War (Oxford, 2009), which deals with Just War theory and argues against the deeply held beliefs within the theory.

Sponsored By:

The Rutland Institute for Ethics
Philosophy & Religion Department


October 5, 2011
Wednesday 6:00PM
Lee Hall Auditorium

Gregory Jaffe, J. D.

Director, Project on Biotechnology

Center for Science in the Public Interest; Washington, DC

Gregory Jaffe

Gregory Jaffe

"Genetically Engineered Foods:  The Raw Truth."

Are genetically engineered foods as risky as some people claim? Others state that engineered crops and animals will solve the world’s agricultural constraints and eliminate food insecurity? Greg Jaffe will cut through the heated rhetoric and discourse and provide the naked truth about these new agricultural products, their impact on our food, and some of the ethical issues they raise. He will summarize the benefits and risks of engineered crops during their first decade and give his insights into the challenges and issues that face this technology in the coming years. He will discuss the transparency and integrity of the US regulatory system and identify solutions that might increase consumer confidence in those foods.  Finally, he will provide an international perspective of how this technology is spreading around the world.

Gregory Jaffe is the Director of the Project on Biotechnology for the Center for Science in the Public Interest (“CSPI”), a non-profit consumer organization located in the United States.  Mr. Jaffe came to CSPI after a long and distinguished career in government service as a Trial Attorney for the U.S. Department of Justice’s Environmental and Natural Resources Division and as Senior Counsel with the U.S. EPA, Air Enforcement Division.  He is a recognized international expert on agricultural biotechnology and biosafety and has published numerous articles and reports on those topics. 

He has worked on biosafety regulatory issues in the United States and throughout the world, including the African countries of Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Mali, Ghana, Malawi, South Africa, Burkina Faso, and Nigeria.  He was a member of the Secretary of Agriculture’s Advisory Committee on Agricultural Biotechnology and 21st Century Agriculture from 2003-2008 and was recently reappointed for a new term starting in 2011.  He was also a member of FDA’s Veterinary Medicine Advisory Committee from 2004-2008.  Gregory Jaffe earned his BA with High Honors from Wesleyan University in Biology and Government and then received a law degree from Harvard Law School. 

Sponsored By:

The Rutland Institute for Ethics
School of Agricultural, Forest, and Environmental Sciences
College of Agriculture, Forestry and Life Sciences


October 24, 2011
Monday 6:00PM
111 Lee Hall

Hyla Willis

Artist/Co-Founding Member

SubRosa, cyberfeminist art collective

Hyla Willis
Photo Courtesy of Larry Rippel

Hyla Willis

"Hyla Willis,  SubRosa, Cyberfeminist Art Collective"

The cyberfeminist art collective subRosa, has been producing
site-u-ational multimedia performances and installations since 1998.
With a socially engaged art practice, subRosa creates platforms for
public discussion about how women participate in the globalized
biotech industry. Biological materials and labor have tremendous value
because they can be used to produce and reproduce whole organisms and tissues. This bio-value and its distribution points can be privatized
and there is a growing gulf between who is providing the raw materials
and who is receiving the benefits of emerging therapies, including
assisted reproductive technologies. This lecture will illustrate
subRosa's performances and art installations, and situate some of our
concerns within a history of Eugenics.

Hyla Willis is an artist and designer working across a wide range of
media. She is a co-founding member of subRosa, a mutable
(cyber)feminist art collective who explore and critique the
intersections of information and bio-technologies on women’s bodies,
lives and work. Since 1998, subRosa has created open-ended
environments where participants engage with objects, texts and digital
technologies. With subRosa, Willis has performed, exhibited, and
lectured in the USA, Spain, Britain, the Netherlands, Germany,
Croatia, Macedonia, Mexico, Canada, Slovenia, and Singapore, and has
received many commissions for this work, two Pennsylvania Council on
the Arts Fellowships in New Genres, a Creative Capital grant in
Emerging Fields, and is a former fellow of the STUDIO for Creative
Inquiry at Carnegie Mellon. She is Associate Professor of Media Arts
at Robert Morris University. Born in Yuba City, California.

Sponsored By:

The Rutland Institute for Ethics
The Center for Visual Arts
Department of Art
Women's Studies


November 1, 2011
Tuesday 7:00PM
Lee Hall Auditorium

Daniel R. Vasgird, Ph.D., CIP

Director, Office of Research Integrity and Compliance

West Virginia University

Daniel Vasgird

Daniel Vasgird

Science and the Global Public:
The Importance of Integrity to the Social Contract

Integrity and responsibility are words with profound implications, especially for those who participate in the global community of science. They cut across time and culture, and yet their fruition in the guise of an ethical lifestyle depends on one’s ability to conceive an ideal, aspire to it, and abide by its dictates to the best of one’s ability. In turn, the truly ethical society depends on its ability to crystallize that conception of the ideal in the hearts and minds of its practitioners. As Richard Livingstone once said, “One is apt to think of moral failure as due to weakness of character; more often it is due to an inadequate ideal.” It is the role of societies (with science being one) that wish to flourish to provide the means for their constituents to truly internalize their highest and most worthy ideals.

Science generally flourishes when the public, with whom it has a social contract, supports it.  The public has a hope for future knowledge and security and generally depends on science and research, its more methodological arm, to provide the ways and means to that goal. Every effort must be made to bolster the invaluable commodities of respect and trust. Realizing that we live in a more demanding and competitive era, the nurturing of research integrity for research institutions has become a forthright rather than presumed endeavor. This presentation will review the evolution of thought, interest and techniques related to the responsible conduct of research over the last half century.

Daniel Vasgird received his BA and MA degrees from the University of California and completed his PhD in social psychology at Syracuse University. He later returned to do an NIMH post-doctoral research fellowship at Berkeley and afterward worked overseas as a human services educator and consultant for the federal government. Dr. Vasgird is currently Director of the Office of Research Integrity and Compliance (ORIC) for West Virginia University (WVU) and an Associate Professor in the WVU Department of Community Medicine. The mission of WVU’s ORIC is to foster a culture of integrity within the University directed at ensuring that participants in the WVU research enterprise internalize and pursue the goal of self-directed responsible conduct of research (RCR). 

Dr. Vasgird has operational responsibility for all research integrity and compliance elements within the University. A primary focus of ORIC is to offer central advisory and educational RCR support to aid each department and school within the University in developing highly visible and effective research integrity awareness and commitment. Dr. Vasgird conceived and developed a widely-used 6 segment web-based RCR training program for the federal Office of Research Integrity and Columbia University. In addition, he was a Lecturer at Columbia University’s School of Public Health and an Associate Professor in the Department of Preventive Medicine and Community Health at SUNY Downstate Health Sciences Center. He is the chair of the International Society of Research Administrators’ (SRA) RCR Special Interest Group, participates in a number of NIH peer review panels dealing with research ethics issues, and is a member of the CITI Development Group and also its Executive Advisory Committee focusing on RCR issues. Formerly he directed the Office for Responsible Conduct of Research (ORCR) for Columbia University and the Office of Research Conduct for the City University of New York.

He has written and presented extensively in the areas of research ethics and human research protection.  For over a decade, Dr. Vasgird was the IRB Chair and Health Research Training Program Director for the New York City Department of Health where he was also responsible for distance learning development among other education and training duties.


Sponsored By:

The Rutland Institute for Ethics
Office of Research Compliance









These events are upcoming; check back later for more information:

  • None at this time


For more information contact:

Daniel E. Wueste, Ph.D.
Director, Robert J. Rutland Institute for Ethics
864-656-6147; Fax: 864-656-2858
Office email:


More about the colloquium:

From the beginning, the theme of the colloquium  has been a central focus in English Composition classes.  However, the link to course work is not confined to English classes.  Faculty across campus are encouraged to make the most of it in preparing syllabi for the upcoming academic year.   In 2001, for example, the theme was “Science and Values: New Frontiers, Perennial Questions.”  The subject of human cloning, which was addressed by one of the major speakers, was explored in many classes in the life sciences, humanities, and social sciences.  Students who participated in the First Annual J.T. Barton Jr., Ethics Essay Scholarship Competition also explored it. (The competition is sponsored by the Rutland Institute for Ethics.)  Linking the colloquium and the ethics essay competition turned out to be a very good thing.  Accordingly, we continue to link them.